TABLE 1-1 U.S. Production of Biofuels from Various Feedstocks in 2006

Fuel

Feedstock

U.S. Production in 2006

Ethanol

Corn

4.9 billion gallons

 

Sorghum

Less than 100 million gallons

 

Cane sugar

No production (600 million gallons imported from Brazil and Caribbean countries)

 

Cellulose

No production (one demonstration plant in Canada)

Biodiesel

Soybean oil

Approximately 90 million gallons

 

Other vegetable oils

Less than 10 million gallons

 

Recycled grease

Less than 10 million gallons

 

Cellulose

No production

SOURCE: U.S. CRS (2007).

The new technology on the horizon is the production of “cellulosic ethanol” from the fibrous material from a variety of plants such as corn stalks and wheat straw, native grasses, and forest trimmings. Cellulosic ethanol production currently exists only at pilot and commercial demonstration-scales, because the technologies for breaking down the fibers into fuel on a commercial scale are still being developed and may be five or more years in the future. A 2005 joint study of the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture concludes that the United States could produce 60 billion gallons of ethanol by 2030 through a combination of grain and cellulosic feedstocks, enough to replace 30% of projected U.S. gasoline demand (USDA/DOE, 2005).

WATER AND BIOFUEL CROPS

Biofuels production will alter both what types of crops are grown and where they are grown and may increase overall agricultural production. The effects of these changes in the agricultural mix of crops on water are complex, difficult to monitor, and will vary greatly by region. In general, crops that require less irrigation, less fertilizer and pesticides, and provide



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